Alison's Insights

Making Sense of Addiction Recovery in Midlife One Slow Deep Breath at a Time

My Sponsor

I just celebrated an anniversary milestone in my recovery.  I never thought I’d be able to achieve it but someone did.  That someone is my sponsor.

Many years ago, I was a drunk, anorexic living behind a mask of lies, manipulations and falsehoods, thinking I had it all together.  I held a successful corporate career, married to a wonderfully loving man, living in a house in the suburbs with two cars in the garage.  I believed I appeared to those around me that all was right in my world.

In truth, those who loved me were terrified as they witnessed my life spiraling out of control.  Being desperate to help, a family member heard of a woman who might  be able help me.  This woman became my sponsor who remains as such in my life today.

From our first encounter, she saw right through me.  There was no way I could manipulate her with my falsehoods because she did the exact same types of things prior to overcoming her addictive life.  She knew I was living in my own hell from the moment she laid eyes on me.  On the other hand, I saw in her what I knew I wanted – a peaceful life, free from the chains of addiction.

Back then I couldn’t conceive a a life without drinking or what it meant to eat in a healthy manner.  Yet if this powerfully confident woman could, maybe I could too.  As we talked, she never told me to stop doing what I was doing, she simply suggested that if I wanted my life to be different, I needed to take action to make it so.

I didn’t hear her at first.  I didn’t want to.  Better said, I was terrified to.  I couldn’t imagine being socially accepted without a glass of wine in my hand and being model thin.

When I told her I felt hopeless about my ability to change, she asked if I was at least willing to try.  After saying “yes”, she told me I’d be OK.  She explained when we become willing to do whatever it takes to get sober, the rest will fall into place.

During our first year together, she stood by me even when I relapsed.  I tried lying to her, but found it’s hard to lie to someone who, at one point or another, did their fair share of lying.

So it was on that fateful morning when I hit my bottom as an alcoholic, I called her drunk and paralyzed with fear as I stumbled through explaining what happened.

When I finished, she said the words that would prove to be a mainstay of our relationship.  She said, “You know what you have to do.  I can’t do it for you.”  In other words, we both knew I needed residential treatment and I had to make the call and ask for help, she couldn’t do it for me.  If I truly wanted my life to be different, I had to take the action on my own.

And so I did.  From that phone call to this day, 10 years later, I have not found a reason to pick up a drink of alcohol.

When I became willing and ready to face my eating disorder, the exact same thing happened.  I made a phone call to get help and from that day to present, I have not found a reason to go back to unhealthy eating practices.

Over time, as my sponsor and I talked through the “Story of Alison” she helped me uncover areas of my life which were the catalysts to living with a glass in hand and no food on my plate.

She has guided me, supported me, prayed with me and encouraged me.  The one thing she has never done was, do it for me.

Yet in truth, I hope she knows how much she indeed has done for me.  She helped to save my life and lead me to where I am today.

No mere words can thank someone for that

If you are still struggling in secret, new to recovery, or sober but feeling empty, look to your support system.  Do you have someone in your life who knows you better than you know yourself?  If not, find one.  Your whole life will change.  Mine did.

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